Overview: A hiking trip along a seldom-travelled section of East Clear Creek, beginning at the Horse Crossing trail, going through Mack's crossing, and continuing to Leonard Canyon.
Warning: This area is seldom travelled, though you might encounter people at Horse Crossing and Mack's crossing. There is no obvious exit apparent at Leonard Canyon, so figuring out where to go from there is up to you!
Beware you will likely get wet to mid-thigh. Bring a hiking pole as the creek is slippery!
Hike: Upon reaching East Clear creek by coming down the east side of the Horse Crossing Trail, head north and follow the human/elk trails downstream, making creek crossings in the usually ankle to calf deep creek. Several good campsites are found as you travel downstream, I documented at least 5 good campsites in the first mile. Please be sure to clean up after your visit and leave no trace!
Continuing down East Clear creek the human trail fades and the elk trails continue. At some point the elk trails are not distinct. From here on it is about 80% game trail and 20% bushwhack/creek slosh. In a few places you will get wet to about mid-thigh when you find you want to cross over to the other side.
The creek is pleasant, though in comparison to its brother - West Clear Creek, is not as deep, clear, nor spectacular. Nevertheless it is less crowded. You will observe that there are billions of crayfish that scatter about whenever your shadow even falls on the creek. Campsites still appear, about every mile or so, until you reach Mack's crossing, where an ATV road makes its way down from the north side of the canyon, across the bottom, and up the south side to the rim. Dayhikers may want to exit south here, making a loop back to their starting point up this rd and onto FR137. To Mack's crossing is 6.2 miles of ECC and about 4 miles of rd and a half mile of Horse Crossing. ECC hiking time is about 3.5-4 hrs.
At Mack's crossing briefly leave creekside and find the atv trail that goes briefly north and then east, bypassing a densely overgrown section of the creek. From here you will resume hiking downstream along the creek. The trail is fairly good, but it peters out quickly. Within the first 2 miles are another 6 campsites. After this, the next section of ECC seems to get little use - there are few campsites and there is more bushwhacking. Perhaps the elk even avoid this section!?
When you reach an enormous boulder in the middle of the creek with a gigantic log on top of it (about 10 ft out of the water - amazing what power a flood has!) you are near the end. Finally you will reach a bend in the creek where Leonard Canyon comes in from your right (south). There is a great campsite right here at the junction with Leonard. East Clear Creek here is impressive - the last 2 miles to this point do begin to rival West Clear Creek as the walls tower above you and the canyon deepens.
East Clear Creek is a haven for wildlife, I observed birds, lizards, snakes, turkeys, deer, and elk. Please do your part to keep this haven of Arizona beautiful - leave no trace!
Water Sources: East Clear Creek - bring a filter
Camping: Campsites are numerous with about 5 within 1 mile of Horse crossing, and then about 1 per mile all the way to Mack's crossing. There are another 7 within 2 miles downstream of Mack's crossing. After this there is one site a little less than a mile from Leonard Canyon and a nice site on the north side of the creek where Leonard Canyon comes in.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.